What’s a Normal Period Cycle?
Posted byChristine Yu
For most women, your period cycle is a normal part of your life. Month after month, you ride the hormonal ups and downs of your cycle without giving it as much as a passing thought. But there are some aspects of your body and your period that remain a mystery. In particular, just what is a normal period cycle and how many days does your period actually last?
The truth is there is no such thing as the ideal period. Your menstrual cycle is unique to you. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to your body to determine what a normal period cycle looks like for you and when something may be off.
What Happens During Your Period
During the course of your menstrual cycle, the lining of your uterus thickens to prepare for pregnancy. If you don’t become pregnant, your body sheds the lining and results in your monthly flow.
Your menstrual cycle, counted from the first day of your period to the first day of the next period, may occur every 21 to 35 days. Your period cycle may last between two and seven days when you’re actively bleeding, with most periods lasting for three to five days. Your menstrual flow may also differ from month-to-month. It may be heavy one month and lighter the next, notes the Office on Women’s Health.1
On top of all that, consider your pre-flow PMS days. The Center for Young Women’s Health says PMS may occur for five to seven days before your period begins.2
What Are Normal Changes in Your Period?
Sometimes it can be hard to tell exactly when your period ends. You may notice a brown discharge at the tail-end of your monthly flow and may be wearing a pantyliner for a few days. That’s normal. It’s just the last of your blood flow making its exit, says the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.3
And yes, your cycle may change with age. It may be longer in the first years following your first period. They may also become more irregular as you get older and near menopause, says the Mayo Clinic.4
If you experience heavy or abnormal uterine bleeding (think any bleeding that differs from your normal cycle — whether in amount, how often, or timing, such as between your regular periods or after menopause), see your doctor. If you stopped having a regular period for three months or more, that warrants a visit to your doctor, too, urges the Office on Women’s Health.5
While your period can be a nuisance, it’s just a fact of life. Keeping track of your monthly changes may help you pinpoint any irregularities that may arise.
1“Menstruation and the Menstrual Cycle.” Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. January 4, 2017. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/menstruation-and-menstrual-cycle
2“Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD).” Center for Young Women’s Health. May 17, 2016. http://youngwomenshealth.org/2013/10/31/pms/
3“Vaginal Discharge.” Palo Alto Medical Foundation. October 2013. http://www.pamf.org/teen/health/femalehealth/discharge.html
4“Menstrual Cycle: What’s Normal, What’s Not.” Mayo Clinic. May 11, 2016. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/menstrual-cycle/art-20047186
5“Menstruation and the Menstrual Cycle.” Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. January 4, 2017. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/menstruation-and-menstrual-cycle
- Posted by Christine Yu
- On July 6, 2017